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pause, and consider with me, somewhat of their immense importance. And let us bend the knee in prayer together, that in the humblest posture of soul and body, we may learn to fear, as Moses commanded Israel, “this glorious and fearful name, the Lord thy God!" Deut. xxviii. 58.
And First, Contemplate with holy reverence and godly fear, the Almighty Speaker of those solemn words, even Jehovah! He it is, who thus proclaimed from heaven, “ by myself have I sworn, saith the Lord !”
Secondly. Mark, it is the Lord proclaiming by oath: not by promise only, but by oath, “ by myself have I sworn, saith the Lord.”
Thirdly. Ponder well the manner of the Lord's swearing, “ by myself,” saith the Lord.
Fourthly. Do not forget the Lord's motive for this astonishing act of grace : namely, to confirm all his promises in Christ by oath, and that oath by himself.
Fifthly. And if possible more than all, cherish in the view of the whole, the firm, unalterable, and eternal assurance contained in it, that that great and glorious God will make all his promises good; not by word only, but by oath, and by blood: his language is, “once have I sworn by my holiness, that I will not lie unto David," Psalm lxxxix. 35.
With these impressions on our mind, and looking up to God the Holy Ghost for his gracious instruction, let us ponder well the sacred words, and hear what the Lord God will graciously condescend to teach us concerning their vast and ponderous meaning, who hath said, by myself have I sworn, saith the Lord.”
And here, in the very first moment of reading the sweet assurance, my heart involuntarily cries out, was it not enough, O Lord, to promise, but will my God condescend to confirm the whole by an oath also? Is not the promise in itself infinitely great; including
Christ and all his fulness, suitableness, and all-sufficiency; but shall we have the oath of the Almighty Promiser to make it sure also? Yes! saith the gracious Lord, my people shall not only have all the promises in Christ Jesus, yea and amen, but I will confirm the whole by oath, As sure as I am God, so sure will I make good to my people all that I have promised them in my dear Son; and I will pledge my holiness, by oath, for their security. “ By myself have I sworn, saith the Lord.”
Now, reader! let us contemplate the vast subject under some few of the more prominent features of it, and the Lord make it blessed to our view.
Some of the old saints of God have thought that by the expression, “ by myself,” is meant Jehovah's oath with Christ. For the oneness in the divine essence, renders it correct; according to the words of Christ, “ I and my Father are one,” John x. 30. And we know that the everlasting priesthood of Christ was confirmed by oath, “the Lord hath sworn, and will not repent; thou art a priest for ever, after the order of Melchizedec,” Psalm cx. 4. And we have a further authority, when Jehovah in vision spake unto his Holy One, he said, “ once have I sworn by my holiness, that I will not lie unto David," Psalm lxxxix. 194-35.
Add to these, certain it is, from the expression “ by myself,” is implied, all that is in Jehovah. The oath by himself, and to himself, and from himself. It is not made to Abraham, but for Abraham. It doth not depend for its accomplishment on Abraham's faith, or Abraham's obedience, but wholly rests on God's truth, and God's faithfulness. Surely the oath of Jehovah, irreversible as in its very nature it must be, could never be subject to the precarious goodness of man. An oath, by which God pledged himself to cease to be holy, and to cease to be God, if he ceased to fulfil his promise, could never be subject to the possibility of any thing depending upon another.
But we must not stop here. By going further, and calling in to our aid what the Holy Ghost hath said in his comment upon this oath of God, we arrive to a perfect clearness on this subject.
In the sixth chapter of the epistle to the Hebrews, we find the Holy Ghost teaching the church by his servant the apostle, how to form just conclusions concerning this oath of Jehovah, as delivered in the book of Genesis, “ When God,” said he, “made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he swear by himself.” But wherefore swear at all ? The Holy Ghost gives the answer, and a most gracious answer it is," wherein God,” saith he, “ willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath; that by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us." Here, therefore, we have the Holy Ghost graciously explaining the whole design of Jehovah in this oath. And as this oath is said to be by himself, so must it be to himself, and depending upon fulfilment wholly in himself. And who doth not, or will not see, that all the Holy Three in One are alike engaged in it, and are mutually guarantees to each other for the accomplishment of it ? Who doth not here behold the truth of that blessed scripture confirmed, which infidels in every age have been nibbling at, without being able to break one thread of the holy knot, which confirms the blessed foundation of our most holy faith, “For there are Three that bear record in heaven; the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost; and these Three are One,” i John v. 7. Reader! do not fail to remember, as often as you read this blessed scripture,
that it is in heaven those holy witnesses bear record. And to whom can such bear record but to each other? And what is it they give record to, but like Jehovah's oath sworn by himself, that “this is the record that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son," i John v. 11.
One word more, concerning this blessed explanatory scripture, of the oath of Jehovah, by the Holy Ghost. “ For men,” saith he,“ verily swear by the greater; and an oath for confirmation is to them an end of all strife.” Yes! an oath among men in an appeal to God for the truth of a thing, when made solemnly, is decisive. “He that sweareth in the earth,” the prophet saith, “ should swear by the God of truth,” Isa. Ixv. 16. With what strength then must the oath of Jehovah be considered, when the form of his oath is, by myself have I sworn, saith the Lord!”
There is a small point more in this passage, which I would beg the reader to observe with me, by way of following up all that hath been said in a stronger manner to the proof of the doctrine; and that is the translation as in the margin of the bible, the word firming by oath.” The words in the margin are,
interposed himself by an oath.”. The original is, emesiteusen, that is, mediated. He mediated by oath; alluding, perhaps, to the person of Christ in his mediation. For it was the glories and triumphs of Christ's sacrifice which gave foundation for this oath. What a beautiful light it throws upon the whole of this subject!
Before I quit the ground, it may be proper that I should make good what I have said respecting the personal acts of the Holy Ghost in this scripture. ' I have called it his comment; and full sure I am that it is so. And in confirmation of what I say, if the reader will turn to the ninth chapter of this epistle to the Hebrews, and read the eighth verse, he will there find, that in all
that is said concerning the services and ordinances observed in the old testament, which this book of God records, the Holy Ghost is expressly said to have been the appointer : "the Holy Ghost (saith the apostle) this signifying.” A positive proof of the Person and ministry of the Holy Ghost, presiding over the whole affairs of the church in that period, from such personal acts and appointments being ascribed to him as can only be said of a Person. A positive proof no less of his eternal power and Godhead, by whom such acts were wrought: and as positive a proof that he was the founder of the old testament dispensation, as he is of the new; by whom both ministers and ordinances are set apart and consecrated.
Reader! ponder well these things ; give thyself wholly to them! Beg of God for that spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of them," that you may be able to comprehend with all saints, what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge; that ye may be filled with all the fulness of God!” Eph. iii. 18, 19.
I must not quit the fruitful ground of such divine scriptural truths, neither close this morsel to hungry souls, which affordeth such lusciousness of fat things, in the contemplation of the oath of Jehovah, before that I have made one observation more in a yet further confirmation, how sacred to the view of our gracious God are his pledges to his people by oath.
This oath to Abraham was not the first oath of the kind which the Lord graciously made; though the church would never have known it, had not the same love which prompted the Lord first to make it, prompted the Lord in after ages to make it known.
It appears that God after the deluge made oath, as well as promised, that he would no more smite the earth with a flood ; but though the promise is recorded,